SAN FRANCISCO — Brian Komei Dempster will be doing a series of Bay Area readings from his debut poetry collection, “Topaz” (Four Way Books).
“Topaz” examines the experiences of a Japanese American family separated and incarcerated in American World War II prison camps. This volume delves into the lasting intergenerational impact of imprisonment and breaks a cultural legacy of silence. Through the fractured lenses of past and present, personal and collective, the speaker seeks to piece together the facets of his own identity and to shed light on a buried history.
Dempster is the editor of both “From Our Side of the Fence: Growing Up in America’s Concentration Camps” (Kearny Street Workshop, 2001), which received a 2007 Nisei Voices Award from the National Japanese American Historical Society, and “Making Home from War: Stories of Japanese American Exile and Resettlement” (Heyday, 2011). His workshops have enabled many Nisei to write about their experiences before, during and immediately after World War II.
His poems have been published in New England Review, North American Review, and Ploughshares, and the anthologies “Language for a New Century: Contemporary Poetry from the Middle East, Asia, and Beyond” (Norton, 2008) and “Asian American Poetry: the Next Generation” (University of Illinois, 2004).
His work as a poet, workshop instructor, and editor has been recognized by grants from the Arts Foundation of Michigan and the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs, the California State Library’s California Civil Liberties Public Education Program, the Center for Cultural Innovation, and the San Francisco Arts Commission. Dempster has also received scholarships to the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference.
He is a professor of rhetoric and language and a faculty member in Asian Pacific American Studies at the University of San Francisco, where he received the Distinguished Teaching Award (along with Ronald Sundstrom) in 2010. Currently, he divides his time between teaching and serving as director of administration for the Master of Arts in Asia Pacific Studies.
The schedule of readings:
• Wednesday, Oct. 9, at 7:30 p.m. at Albany Library, 1247 Marin Ave., Albany. With “Making Home from War” and “Collecting Nisei Stories” contributors Ruth Ichinaga and Toru Saito.
• Thursday, Oct. 17, at 7 p.m. at Green Apple Books, 506 Clement St., San Francisco. With “Making Home from War” contributors Florence Dobashi and Michi Tashiro.
• Sunday, Oct. 27, at 3 p.m. at East Wind Books, 2066 University Ave., Berkeley. With “Making Home from War” and “Collecting Nisei Stories” contributors Kazuko Iwahashi, Ruth Okimoto and Toru Saito. Co-presenting with Paul Okimoto, author of “Oh! Poston, Why Don’t You Cry for Me? And Other Stops Along the Way.”
• Wednesday, Nov. 6, at 6 p.m. at San Francisco Public Library’s Latino Room, 100 Larkin St., San Francisco. With “Making Home from War” contributors Florence Dobashi, Sato Hashizume and Daisy Satoda.
On the Web: http://briankomeidempster.com